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Pitt Claims Another World Champion

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Coach Agnus Berenato celebrating with Shavonte Zellous following the Indiana Fever's WNBA title win on Sunday night. 

The Pitt family can claim another world champion this morning. Former Pitt women's basketball star Shavonte Zellous helped lead the Indiana Fever to the WNBA title last night over the heavily favored Minnesota Lynx in the best-of-five series. The Fever needed just four games to earn their first-ever championship.

Shavonte was an integral part of that title run, which included a last-second shot to extend the series against Connecticut, and a 30-point performance in game three of the finals against Minnesota. If you had the chance to see her play at Pitt, none of her success surprises you.

One reason we felt so passionately about starting Pitt Live Wire was to bring you stories that you couldn't get anywhere else. The greatest reason, however, was to bring these current and former student-athletes to life so that you are able to get a glimpse into the people we are blessed to work with every day.

As if they were my own kids, I realize you aren't supposed to pick favorites... but to be honest, Shavonte has always been one of mine. She puts as much effort into her relationships off the court as she does to her time on the court, and that is a rare combination. Her smile is inescapable and her energy is infectious.

It's cliché, but at Pitt Shavonte was always the first one on the court and the last to leave and I'm sure that hasn't changed. But she didn't just care about her own point totals. Many times she put the team on her back and willed the Panthers to a win. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better leader.

All of these things are probably pretty evident to anyone paying attention. What isn't so clear is that she made herself who she is today, although she would never admit to that. She would mention everyone from her mom, to her high school coach, to Pitt coach Agnus Berenato, to her support staffs. And, she would be right -- they were instrumental in her success. However, there are a lot of people that have those same resources and opportunities that don't take advantage of them.

Shavonte's struggle to get a scholarship offer out of high school is documented. Her record-breaking accomplishments with the Panthers are also well documented. But it's the work that led to the success that makes her special.

Upon Shavonte being named the 2008 Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year, Berenato stated to Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"I can honestly say this, she is the No. 1 success story in all my years of coaching. I've had a lot of players over the years do a lot of good things, but she is without doubt the best success story in my life and has to be one of the top in the country. Where she came from to what she has made herself is something special."

Sincerest congratulations, Shavonte. You embody everything Pitt is and aspires to be and we are infinitely better for having you as one of us.

Hail To Pitt!

 

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